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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007 2:08 pm
Frey’s Agent Enters the Fray
Posted by: Keir Graff

In the New York Observer (“Reconstructing Frey“), Leon Neyfakh examines James Frey’s new book deal in the context of his agent’s efforts to make the name “James Frey” fall more trippingly from our lips.

Thus Mr. Simonoff and HarperCollins took the first step in what will likely be a long, painstaking campaign to rehabilitate the career of James Frey. Since the deal was announced, Mr. Simonoff has been driving a publicity blitz designed to emphasize the enthusiasm with which the publishing industry greeted the news of Mr. Frey’s comeback effort. Mr. Simonoff’s goal, in the words of one top agent, has been "to say that he’s not tainted. To legitimize him and legitimize the book and to remove any stigma around it by saying that all of New York publishing was hungry to see it."

Long story short: the agent didn’t lie, exactly, but he may have¬†shaded the truth in regard to publishers’ interest in the new book, Bright Shiny Morning. My favorite line comes from an unnamed “publishing executive”:

"It’s a bit of a fig leaf," he went on, referring to Mr. Simonoff’s efforts to suggest that all is forgiven with Mr. Frey. Still, "it may have the virtue of being true, which is not a bad thing. This is publishing. We hire the handicapped."



One Response to “Frey’s Agent Enters the Fray”
  1. Book Blog - Likely Stories, by Keir Graff - Booklist Online » Blog Archive » A Long Way Gone a Little Bit Off? Says:

    [...] According to a recent report in The Australian (”Africa’s war child,” by Shelley Gare, Peter Wilson, and David Nason), the timeline is wrong in Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. The story of how the discrepancies came to light–and the responses of Beah’s publisher and guardian–are both fascinating and troubling. And while the book’s success and Beah’s visibility ensure that there will be a lot more talk about this, it’s likely to be a lot more delicate than the James Frey proceedings–as well it should be. Even if, as the article suggests, Beah’s time as a soldier lasted months, not years, no child should have to experience that kind of horror for even a moment. There are other questions worth asking, though. If confirmed, the revelations do not mean Beah’s tale isn’t truly terrible. They don’t mean that he hasn’t been through experiences that most of us in the developed world will never have to face even in our nightmares. They don’t detract from the fact that, as his New York agent Ira Silverberg told Inquirer, of the inspiring book, “Beautiful things have come from the success he has seen. [...]

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